San Francisco Stadium, in 1938 Google Earth

Above: Jobius Technologies cutting-edge imagery combines historical aerial photographic mapping, Google Earth projections, and Bernalwood-brand-appropriate annotations. Future work is planned to incorporate time-lapse video and reverse-engineered La Lenguan animated GIF technology.

The amazing Harrison Ryker aerial map photos of 1938 San Francisco are now, thanks to the David Rumsey Map Collection, available as a layer in Google Earth! When I first saw these aerial photos at Burrito Justice, I was curious about the stadium on the upper right of this Google Earth view — a race track identified by Burrito Justice as San Francisco Stadium. I would have been able to see it from my apartment building, but alas, it wasn’t yet built when the track existed. Nevertheless, I decided to put my model of it in the scene above, since nobody was using the land. (I’d build a model of the stadium, but I’ve only ever seen the one photo of it, Ryker’s, looking straight down.)

Eric Fischer @enf found some references to the old San Francisco Stadium in Google Books:

Automotive industries: Volume 75, 1936

There are, of course, many well-organized midget racing speedways such as Madison Square Garden Bowl at New York, River View at Chicago, Walsh Stadium at St. Louis, San Francisco Stadium at San Francisco, Municipal Stadium a…

Fire engineering: Volume 90, 1937

Fog Nozzle Tested Fognozl Applicators, one of the several types of fog nozzles marked by the Fog Nozzle Company, Los Angeles, Cal., were given a test in the San Francisco Stadium. A sedan was doused inside and out with fifteen gallons of gasoline and set afire. The fire was extinguished in eighteen seconds with the use of a 10-foot duraluminum Fognozl Applicator, with a 1-inch Type B head. But eighteen gallons of water were used. Smoldering upholstery in the car was extinguished with a 5-gallon back pump, equipped with a 2-foot applicator

So that’s exciting. But it doesn’t seem that it lasted long. I found only one mention of it in a city directory, from 1936.

By 1945, the land it stood on was part of a Marine Corps Supply Depot (see 1947 map on last page of this report, PDF). Also from that report, tantalizing evidence of many more aerial photos of the area: “October 2, 1995, aerial photographs were reviewed for the years 1935,1938, 1948, 1955, 1961, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1972, 1975, 1981, 1991, and 1994.” “Aerial photographs dated 1935 through 1994 (Pacific Aerial Surveys, Oakland, CA).” Pacific Aerial Surveys is now part of HJW Geospatial. They charge royalties for distributing their imagery, so I probably won’t be able to post any here, but I’m going to try to get a look at them.


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